After a few decades of dedicated research I have concluded if I can only have one gin in my cabinet it will be Plymouth.
My friend, whom I have been educating on bourbon for the last few months, suddenly revealed that he is a minor gin guy and gave me a gin 101 lesson. He lined up some basics - New Amsterdam, Tanqueray London Dry, Tanqueray Rangpur, and Bombay Sapphire, and we tried them neat and with diet tonic water.
Suffice to say, I was impressed with all of them. With tonic water, I like the Rangpur, and neat I liked the Bombay Sapphire - but the sub-$15 New Amsterdam was simple and good too, especially for the price. Price and taste taken together, I think I might have to take up gin as a second liquor of interest.
You guys see this question with whisk(e)y all the time: What commonly available gin recommendations to you have for a new gin drinker trying to cheaply but effectively expand his range?
To fully appreciate gin I think it is worth including both Plymouth and Old Tom gin in your exploration. There is only one "true" Plymouth gin called Plymouth gin naturally enough! So that is easy.
There are two fairly regularly available old Tom gins but they are fairly different. Hayman's Old Tom is more the classic version. Ransom Old Tom is a delightful malty Old Tom style and a wonderful spirit made in Oregon (they also now make a young straight bourbon which I haven't tried but probably deserves a taste at least).
Ransom gin also serves as a lovely introduction to the world of genever/jenever, the Dutch big brother of more traditional London style gins like Tanqueray, Bombay and even the California based New Amsterdam. Without at least trying jenever I don't think you can have a really complete gin experience. Bols is the biggest name and a good place to start but there are others worth checking out as well, including Genevieve, a pot stilled spirit of wheat, barley and rye mash, from Anchor in San Francisco.
Yes, it can be as addictive as bourbon...
Bombay Blue, dry Vermouth, a little lime juice, shaken with ice, and two or three garlic stuffed queen olives.
There are damn few drinks better than that.
Don't overlook Beefeaters which is a classic for a reason.
Wow, thanks for the quick responses guys!
I will try be sure to try
-Beefeaters (pretty cheap and available around me)
-martinis and close variants (that pretty much what you were describing, right Alden?)
(At $32+, Plymouth seems a little too expensive for a new cheap gin drinker like me, but thanks a lot for the reference nonetheless. My friend's birthday is coming up.)
A well crafted gin (not just flavored GNS) is a very sophisticated liquor.